tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 4, 2013 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
moment if mitt were there in the office, that we would not be facing sequestration right now. >> mrs. romney makes the utterly specious claim that if her husband had won, then sequestration would not have happened despite the fact that the vast majority of republicans in the house voted for it. you know, the only revelation from yesterday's interview is that mr. and mrs. romney are still perplexed about why they didn't win the election. but what don't they understand? did they not realize that dismissing half the people of this great nation as feckless freeloaders would not endear them to the electorate? did they not think that people would have reservations about a man who hides millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts, reluctantly releases the bare minimum in terms of his own finances, and was so clearly a stooge for corporate millionaires and billionaires?
however, there is one interview which may help explain why mr. and mrs. romney are finding defeat so hard to stomach. it actually took place in april last year. and here is what they had to say. >> what would each of you say to president and mrs. obama? >> well, start packing. >> i believe it's mitt's time. it's our turn now. >> it's our turn now. that explains it all. lord and lady romney, the entitled plutocrats who made the false assumption that their vast personal wealth qualified them for the white house. i'm reminded of those remarkable words of andrew carnegie. there is no class so pitablely wretched as that which possesses money and nothing else. thanks so much for watching. chris matthews and "hardball" is next. cutting the deficit at any
price, even when the price is too high. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm michael smerconish in for chris matthews. leading off tonight, deficit chicken hawks. we begin this week to find that republicans have gotten what they wanted, indiscriminate cuts in government. what no one is disputing is that they'll kill jobs and slow the recovery all while doing nothing to solve our long-term spending problem. it's not unlike being fat and deciding to cut off your leg to lose weight. at least we now know the one thing the gop stands for, cutting spending, any spending, and protecting the wealthy from tax hikes at any costs. also, what are we to make of mitt romney's first post-election interview? here are two reactions that come to mind. he hasn't moved on and he still doesn't get why he lost. plus, would you pay $77 for a
box of gauze pads? how about $1.50 for one tylenol tablet? guess what? it's possible that you already have anytime you have gone to the hospital. here is what i want to know. will obama care fix that mess? and who decided that dennis rodman was the ideal ambassador to break the ice with the most isolated country on earth, north korea, and its bizarre leader kim jong-un? finally, calling luke skywalker and captain kirk, was president obama referring to "star wars" or "star trek" when he criticized republicans last week about the sequester? the answer may be in the "sideshow." let's begin with republican unity on spending cuts. howard fine marn is the editorial director for "the huffington post," and jared bernstein is a former economic adviser to vice president biden. both are msnbc political analysts. gentlemen, "the new york times" caught on to a trend within the republican party today with their front page headline "gop clings to one thing it agrees on, spending cuts."
richard stevenson then wrote conservative governors are signing onto provisions of what they once derisively dismissed as obama care. prominent senate republicans are taking positions on immigration that would have gotten the party's presidential candidates hooted off the debate stage during last year's primaries. same-sex marriage has gone from being a reliable motivator for the conservative base to gaining broad acceptance. and four months after mr. obama won a second term, the only issue that truly unites republicans is a commitment to shrinking the federal government through spending cuts, low tacks, and less regulation. you can hear that sentiment from senate republican leader mitch mcconnell yesterday on cnn. >> so far i haven't heard a single senate republican say they'd be willing to raise a dime in taxes to turn off the sequester. >> jared, the gop says that even bad budget cutting is better than no budget cutting. why are they wrong? >> because of the impact of bad budget cutting on the people who
take the brunt of it. most of whom don't work for the house or the senate. for example, it's been widely estimated that the economy will grow about half a point more slowly and that we'll lose over half a million jobs if the sequester sticks. now, that's not the difference between recession and recovery, but it does mean that our already too slow recovery grows even more slowly. so to say that you don't care about that, that that's okay with you, is saying that you're okay with higher unemployment and worse jobs outcomes. >> howard, is it nevertheless a better strategy than the republicans have had more recently, better in the sense that they shed themselves of all the baggage that comes from those divisive social issues and now they stand for a single proposition which is smaller government? >> yes. it's more efficient and more consistent, however wrong. but you're right, politically they were even bigger losers when it came to social issues which not only divided the party internally but turned off the mainstream of american cultural
society for sure. all the way down the line. here they're going to their lowest common denominator, which inside the spending portion which they're often not really serious on actually, is taxes. and mitch mcconnell is right, and i have talked to lots of republicans about this. you know, we said not long ago, michael, that actually the tea party had had its moment, that their big moment was 2010, and now the tea party has kind of faded as a force. that actually is not true. in this kind of reductionist politics, all republicans are tea party members now because of their focus on taxes and their refusal to deal any longer with that part of the equation. >> and, jared, maybe one of the reasons why effectively it can be a good strategy for the gop is that intuitively some of their constituents draw a causal connection between government spending being out of control and a sluggish economy. why is that connection faulty?
>> well, it's not only faulty, it's upside down. if you want evidence, just look at europe. i mean, europe has cut government spending at a time when the economy was already weak and growth has slowed. it doesn't mean that you can never cut government spending. it doesn't mean that every dollar is fully efficiently spent. but it certainly does mean that you don't take a whack out of government services so indiscriminately and at a time like this, when the economy is already too weak. let's be clear about this, it's not just the republicans who have signed on to spending cuts. democrats, if you look at the president's plan, he also agrees that there are places to cut spending, including entitlements, by the way. but it's a matter of -- part of this is a matter of timing. you don't hit the economy while it's down. so it's the indiscriminate nature, all of this austerity, which again look to europe if you want to see how that works. >> yesterday on "meet the press" john boehner told david gregory the republican plan to promote growth. let's watch. >> we've got to find a way through our tax code to promote
more economic growth in our country. we can do this by closing loopholes, bringing the rates down for all americans, making the tax code fairer. it will promote more economic -- >> there's no ironclad evidence that lowering marginal tax rates will lead to economic growth. >> oh, yes there is. >> clinton raised classes -- >> there's mountains of evidence that if we bring tax rates down, that we will help spur economic growth in our country. >> that hasn't been tried before? >> oh, yeah, ronald reagan 1981. >> and he also raised taxes. >> and it worked very well. >> he raised taxes as well and it didn't hurt the economy, did it? >> listen, he lowered taxes twice, in 1981 and again out of the 1986 tax reform. when they lowered rates for all americans, we had this boom in economic growth. >> jared bernstein, i need an abacus to follow this sort of thing. this is why you're here. it sounds to me like the speaker is saying we closed the loopholes in return for lower taxes and lower tax rates. isn't that an offset which
provides no net revenue? >> correct. if you do revenue neutral tax reform, that's what he's talking about, there is no deficit or debt reduction there. so right off the bat that's a little screwy if your target is the debt. secondly, there's not mountains of evidence for that. there's not even ant hills of evidence for that. i mean, this is supply side economics, and what we've seen time and again is if you cut the tax rates, especially for those at the top of the income scale, you have less revenue and they have higher after-tax income. i mean, you couldn't possibly ask for better evidence than we've had of that over the long haul. >> you'd acknowledge we could never just grow our way out of a $16 trillion debt. >> i would. >> okay. howard fineman, who wins, who loses politically as they cuts now begin to play themselves out? >> well, i think the president has the upper hand politically, but i think it's a closer question than was true during the fiscal cliff. i think in this case not raising
taxes, just the mere statement of refusal to raise taxes is overall by itself a pretty popular sort of default position for the american people, so it's a little bit of a closer question. where the republicans lose and where they're going to continue to lose is that they seem to be the uncooperative ones. they're the ones who are refusing to properly negotiate. they're the ones who are taking, you know, a line in the sand position. and in the 1990s it was the republicans who were blamed for a shutdown of government. in this time around it will be the republicans by a narrow margin perhaps, but the republicans who will again be blamed for the disruptions that the sequester causes. you're going to see lines at the airports. you're going to see furloughs. you're going to see a slow down of economic activity in various places. ultimately it's the republicans' gamble that those will be slow moving and undramatic and will take a long time to take effect, and they think the american people will say, you know what? cutting $85 billion isn't that
bad. that's their bet. >> howard -- >> i think in the end, in the end they will lose that bet because ultimately the effects of sequester will be real. >> and if the "b" roll, to put it in language we understand to go with this story is of government workers being laid off, politically speaking the gop's calculus is that's not such a bad thing. >> if it's government workers, if it's -- if so-called bureaucrats who don't seem to be doing anything who may have valuable work but you can't put it on television who are laid off, that's one thing. it's another thing if they're hour upon hours of lines at -- >> tsa. >> at airports or the tsa. if people can't get their questions answered from the irs or from medicare, whatever. there's going to be real world effects. >> jared, go ahead. >> it's also the case that the vast majority of people who work for defense contractors are private sector employees. so it's not just government workers who are going to be facing job losses here. >> while the cuts are going into effect, the president said today
that he still hopes to work with republicans on reducing the deficit. here is what he said. >> we are going to manage it as best we can to try to minimize the impacts on american families, but it's not the right way for us to go about deficit reduction, and so i will continue to seek out partners on the other side of the aisle so we can create the kind of balanced approach of spending cuts, revenues, entitlement reform that everybody knows is the right way to do things. >> and, jared, the right way would have to include, and he made reference to it, medicare and medicaid, true? >> right. true, and that's in his plan. i mean, he says everyone knows he's leaving out john boehner and mr. mccome and paul ryan and eric cantor. look, the gridlock here is fully a function of republicans' inability to get to yes on new revenues in this deal because the president -- this is probably not widely appreciated and it's just a few mouse clicks
away. the president keeps saying i have this plan. click on his plan and you will see reductions to benefits in social security. you will see reductions to medicare spending. he's going outside of many democrats' comfort zones. so he is putting entitlements, spending on the table along with revenue increases and, of course, that's the sticking point. >> jared bernstein, thank you. howard fineman, as always. thank you very much. coming up, mitt romney's first interview since losing the election. he says he was convinced he would win even as late as election day. that's ahead. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ kitt ] you know what's impressive?
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i look at what's happening right now. i wish i were there. it kills me not to be there, not to be in the white house doing what needs to be done. >> welcome back to "hardball." romney re-emerges. it's been four months since he lost the election, but a wistful mitt romney is still brooding over what went wrong in his failed presidential bid, and comments to chris wallace yesterday on fox news sunday shows a candidate and a party that's out of touch with a diverse america. here is romney explaining his loss. >> the weakness that our campaign had, that i had, is we weren't effective at taking my message primarily to the minority voters, to hispanic americans, african-americans, other minorities. that was a real weakness. we did very well with a majority of the population but not with minority populations, and that was a failing. that was a real mistake. >> why do you think that was? >> well, i think the obama care
attractiveness and feature was something we underestimated, particularly among lower incomes, and we just didn't do as good a job as connecting with that audience as we should have. >> joy reid is managing editor of the grio and an msnbc political analyst and peter by nert is a columnist for "the daily beast." peter you wrote and said he still doesn't get it. what doesn't he yet get. >> how can he have been surprised that people without health insurance would want health insurance? he says that, oh, it was the power of incumbency, like this was a patronage a goody obama threw out there as' posed to his white voters who only want what's good for the country. it's this way of talking about people essentially as if they're the ones who were dependent on the government. gol back to that 47%. whereas our people are models of self-reliance that people instinctively understand means you're talking about them as if somehow they are leeches where as everyone else has made it on
their own. >> for the last two years i have taken it as an article in faith that in his core he's a moderate individual. that the real mitt romney is the man who governed massachusetts, he then tacked to the right as so to survive that republican primary process and this was the net net. now i'm wondering did i have it reversed. could he at his core be a conservative individual who tacked to the left in order to get elected in massachusetts? what do you make of that theory? >> i agree. i think what we -- the real mitt romney is the guy we saw in that 47% tape. the reason i say that is that was mitt romney not being handled. that was mitt romney not believing he was being taped, not believing he was on television and saying what he really thought. when a guy said to him, how do we get those people, those people to stop taking all our stuff and being on welfare and not taking care of themselves, that was his answer. 47% of people are just dependent, just leeches and mooches. i think what mitt romney is fundamentally is a patrician and he will do and say whatever he has to do in the moment to get re-elected and in massachusetts that meant tacking to the
middle, but i think the real mitt romney is the guy who, as peter said, thinks that those people and he thinks they're all black and brown, as if that's the only people who receive assistance -- >> he commented on this. he talked about this. as a matter of fact, he admits his 47% comments were harmful but as he put it, listen to how he explains, it a mace stick. >> it was a very unfortunate statement i made. it's not what i meant. i didn't express myself as i wished i would have. you know, when you speak in private, you don't spend as much time thinking about how something could be twisted and distorted and could come out wrong and be used, but, you know, i did and it was very harmful. what i said is not what i believe. obviously my whole campaign, my whole life has been devoted to helping people, all the people. i care about all the people. >> maybe i'm splitting hairs. it really wasn't in private. private is the three of us go to lunch, not that one of us stands up at a fund-raiser. >> yeah. you know, this is -- i think mitt romney in his heart of
hearts i'm sure in some place really does want to do what's right for everybody, but what it comes across as is that he really does believe there are two sets of americans. there are the sets of americans -- set of americans who take and the set of americans who give, and it just happens that those divide along essentially racial and class lines. anyone who knows anything about american history and about the way our political economy actually works knows that's absolutely not true. i mean, how did the white south reach economic parity with the rest of america? through the massive infusion of government money through agriculture and military subsidies for instance. but he seems totally blind to this and blind to the way in which these kind of comments will still be heard by the kind of voters that republicans need to win as fundamentally alienating. >> you began your piece by being complimentary. you said, i forget the word choice, you thought he was a very decent individual at his core. and then moved on and criticized his remarks. >> well, he does have this foundation which he talked about which is designed to help poor kids. one of the things i always have liked about mitt romney which is
the same thing i like about barack obama is he really seems to like to be with his wife. he really seems to actually be one of the rare politicians who refers to be with his own wife and family. he struck me as a grounded guy but also a very detached guy. >> the reason i bring that up is because one of the comments that ann romney made is that she blamed the media and she blamed the media for not allowing the real narrative of mitt romney to come out, and i blame the romneys and the campaign because i called it on the road in the course of the convention, convention and political malpractice the way that those tremendous testimonials from mormons were not shown in prime time and instead it was clint eastwood and the chair. but respond, joy, to that whole issue of it's the media's fault. >> you're obviously right. i was at the convention when they played this video. i thought if this is getting on tv this will really help him because it shows him as a human being. when you're the challenger in a campaign, it's on you to try to define who you are because, of course, the incumbent is spending money defining you the
way they want to to the voters. the romney campaign never created a narrative that was this is the real mitt romney because they didn't want to talk about mormonism, they were afraid of alienating the religious right and they didn't want to talk about his time in massachusetts because they were afraid it would a make him look too liberal. they didn't want to talk about anything than that narrow set of platitudes and sound bits that were never definitional about him. one quick point, this is a guy who maybe he is decent but those people who were working in that room, serving food to him and his friends in boca raton, they were invisible to him such that he felt comfortable saying what he said in front of them. i think that tells you something -- >> on this issue on the media. this is ann romney blaming the media for the portrayal of mitt. >> of course, it was partly true, but it was not just the campaign's fault. i believe it was the media's fault as well. is that he was not being given a fair shake that people weren't allowed to really see him for who he was. >> all right. what about the media? >> i'm happy to blame the media.
>> do you think the media was in the tank for barack obama? >> i think that any time you're running for office, you always think that you're being portrayed unfairly, and, you know, of course on our side we believed there's more bias in favor of the other side. i think that, you know, that's a pretty universal -- universally felt opinion. >> and yet, peter in that same interview she acknowledges the truthfulness of the politico report that said that both she and tagg romney went to the campaign and said essentially let mitt be mitt. >> right. i mean, i think what's ironic about this is a lot of the problems mitt romney had that. >> i was talking about were similar to the kind of problems al gore had in 2000 and john kerry has in dwour which essentially you had a campaign apparatus that would not let the guy talk about who the core of what he was is. the core of who he is is he's more mon imp, his deep commitment to his faith and his belief he was a great governor of massachusetts. when you take those things away, like you said to al gore in
2000, you can't talk about the environment, what you get is someone who is inauthentic. >> i remember that image that was presented by parents of a 14-year-old who died at a very young age of mitt romney coming to his bedside with a legal tablet and preparing for him his last will and testament so that he knew where his skateboard would go. >> right. >> not shown in prime time. if you weren't watching a feed like ours on msnbc, chances are you didn't even see it. that's not the fault of the media that's whom ever put it at 9:00 instead of 10:00 at night. >> i think it's part of the core problem i think with the romney campaign is it was operating out of fear. fear of the base of the republican party, and they did so much of what they did out of terror at what the base would say, whether it was tea partiers or the religious right that they failed to do basic things you're supposed to do when you're building a challenger's campaign. >> let us acknowledge this, at times in the interview mitt romney came off as humble, especially when he noted his own losing record. >> to a certain degree when you hear about the rebranding, aren't people saying they want to distance the party from you?
>> well, i recognize that as the guy who lost the election i'm not in a position to tell everybody else how to win, all right? they're not going to listen, and i don't have the credibility to do that anyway. >> what does the republican party need to do to reach out and attract more voters? >> well, first of all, i lost, and so i'm not going to be telling the republican party come listen to me, the guy who lost is going to tell you how to win. >> cpac is not the game as gop, but it's amazing to me, it's telling i guess i should say that chris christie will not be there and mitt romney will be there. >> because chris christie is exactly the guy who did the kind of things that joy is talking about. it's exactly what bill clinton had to do in 1992. he had to do something, some confrontation with his own party to say you know what? i am different. mitt romney never did that and, therefore, he kent the baggage of a very, very unpopular republican brand. >> if, for example, in the 10 for 4 question he would have stood up and said this is insanity. >> that's right but he defended his answer. he said i was right to say 10
for 4. of course he wasn't right. that was exactly the kind of thing that made him noncredible. >> thank you peter by nert. thank you joy reid. appreciate you both being here. up next, former south carolina governor mark sanford has a proposal for his ex-wife that she can refuse. the "sideshow" is coming up. don't foregit if you want to follow me on twitter you just need to be able to spell smerconish. this is "hardball," the place for politics. [ male announcer ] when it comes to the financial obstacles military families face, we understand. our financial advice is geared specifically to current and former military members and their families. life brings obstacles. usaa brings retirement advice. ♪
for current and former military members and their families. get advice from the people who share your values. for our free usaa retirement guide, call 877-242-usaa. back to "hardball." now to the "sideshow." first, "snl" seth meyers and host kevin hart schooled the supreme court on why doing away with section 5 of the voting rights act is just a bad idea. >> really, supreme court, your plan is the voting rights act is outdated. i don't think you get to say what's outdated when you're a small council of old people in robes who decide our laws and can't be fired. that's like guy telling people what's tacky. also, you can't argue that racism isn't is problem anymore just because we have a black president. really, if it was up to some
people in the south, we wouldn't have a black president, we would have separate presidents. >> you know you would. you still got the from last time. really? >> really. >> we don't mend to be hard on you mississippi but us just ratified the amendment abolishing slavery two weeks ago. not only did mississippi wait 150 years after lincoln, they waited six months after "lincoln" the movie. i mean really. >> he's not kidding about mississippi and ratifying the 13th amendment. their first attempt to do it was in 1995. still pretty late. but a paperwork snafu meant the whole thing never went through. next, the mark sanford saga gets a little weirder. this is, of course, the mark sanford who is trying to make a political comeback after that bizarre incident during his stint as governor of south carolina. some thought he was off hiking the appalachian trail, but he was really in argentina having an extramarital affair. now he's running for congress and according to "new york magazine" he had a proposition for his ex-wife, jenny sanford,
who helped with his previous campaign. quote, since you're not running, i want to know if you'll run my campaign, he said. we could put the team back together. jenny told him in so many words that wasn't going to happen. mark made one last appeal, quote, i could pay you this time, he said. can't say it's a huge surprise that he took a pass, but the request -- that she took a pass, but the request itself a little jaw-dropping. neck, what do americans really think of this massive overhaul of spending cuts that took effect on friday? gallup put the responses to that question in a word cloud. here goes. seems to be a tossup between good and disaster. people had free rein on their responses so some of the more emotional responses include god help us and here we go again. finally, one of the biggest takeaways from president obama's news conference on friday, at least on twitter was this one line. >> i'm presenting a fair deal. the fact that they don't take it
means that i should somehow, you know, do a jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what's right. >> enter confused sci-fi fans. was the president talking about "star wars" and the jedi mind trick or "star trek" and the vulcan mind meld? chances are he just plain messed up. but lucas film, the company that brought us "star wars" weighed in. a spokesperson said, quote, president obama might have created a mash up of "star wars" friends at lucas film and "star trek." he also might be a lot more savvy with his knowledge of "star wars" than anyone is giving us credit for. in some of the "star wars" spinoff books there is a force meld. all the president's friend at lucas film would love to believe his expertise in "star wars" knowledge runs deep tp probably a long shot 37 there is no question the president has
friends at lucas film. george lucas donated to both his presidential campaigns. up next, why do health costs in this country continue to soar and what's obama care going to do about it? you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. n you said men are superior drivers? yeah. yeah. then how'd i get this... [ voice of dennis ] ...allstate safe driving bonus check? what is that? so weird, right? my agent, tom, said... [ voice of dennis ] ...only allstate sends you a bonus check for every six months you're accident-free... ...but i'm a woman. maybe it's a misprint. does it look like a misprint? ok. what i was trying... [ voice of dennis ] silence. ♪ ask an allstate agent about the safe driving bonus check. are you in good hands? [ sneezes ] [ sniffles ] [ female announcer ] for everything your face has to face. face it with puffs facial tissues. puffs has air-fluffed pillows for 40% more cushiony thickness. face every day with puffs softness.
[ coyote howls ] how about no more surprises? now you can get all the online trading tools you need without any surprise fees. ♪ it's not rocket science. it's just common sense. from td ameritrade. i'm hampton pearson with your cnbc market wrap. the dow jones industrial today recorded its second highest close ever and is now within 40 points of an all-time high. the dow gaining 38 points to almost 14,128. the s&p 500 rising 7. the nasdaq up 12 points. meanwhile, apple shares fell 2.5% to a 52-week low. apple's down to $420 and is down almost 20% this year. that's it from cnbc, first in business worldwide. now back to "hardball."
♪ welcome back to "hardball." remember the outrage over the department of defense's $435 hammer or business executive dennis kozlowski's $6,000 shower curtain? well, be prepared to be outraged again but this time you can be directly affected. it's medical costs that are out of control. steven brill wrote the longest ever cover story for "time" magazine where he spent seven months knee deep in eight cases of people who got astronomical medical bills. he went through them line by line and his findings are astounding. here are some of the highlights. $77 for a box of gauze pads, $18 for a single diabetes test trip. you can buy a box of 50 on amazon for $28. and the whopper of them all, a 10,000% markup on simple tylenol
tablets. the hospital charged $1.50 per tablet. you can buy a bottle of 100 for $1.49. the outrage is clear. the solution isn't. joining me steven brill, who wrote the special report for "time" magazine called "bitter pill: why mel bills are kiling us" and near ra tam den who worked on the affordable care act as seen area visor for health reform at hhs. steven, you say our prirpts are mistaken. we have been looking at who will pay instead of how much is to be paid. why? why have we gotten this out of whack? >> all the people who are getting the money that i found in the bills have an interest in having the debate be different. i should also a.d.d. that while, you know, the $77 box of gauze pads is interesting, what really costs money is, you know, the $13,000 dose of a cancer drug that the hospital buys for $3,000 and the drugmaker makes for $200. that is the stuff that is, you know, driving the country
bankrupt and is driving millions of families bankrupt every year. >> a part of the reason why there's not more outrage is because an individual like myself who is fortunate in having health insurance, i really only want to know one thing, is it covered? unlike my cable bill which comes into my house and i scrutinize every line of it. medical bill, they're paying it, i don't worry about it? >> there's a large percentage of americans who do have to pay directly, but even in your case, your insurance company might negotiate a 40% or 5% or even 60% discount off the box of gauze pads or off of the $13,000 wonder drug, but that still is an exorbitant profit for the hospital, the drugmaker, the ct scan equipment maker and everybody involved. so this affects everybody. >> one of the things near ra that i learned from steven brill and his piece at "time" magazine is the affordable care act because of the focus on who pays is going to leave unaddressed many of the issues that he's
describing. can you respond to that issue? >> well, look, i think that there are solutions in the affordable care act and that they should be strengthened. one of the challenging is he wnt do enough competition. there's not competitive bidding. one of the things is that people can charge exorbitant prices and there's no competition to get a lower price. it's something that this really amazing article points out, and i think that is -- there are a number of steps -- it doesn't matter who is paying for things and how they're paid for. some of the ideas around bundling and ensuring that we're paying for episodes of care will help illustrate why -- it will help create incentives to lower the cost of every individual item, every particular service. so there are steps within the affordable care act that get at why prices are so high. we should take additional steps, and they're not sufficient. we should do more. >> steven, what do we need to do? >> but it's not that we haven't
done anything. >> well, i think the fair thing with all due respect to neera and her work, the fair thing is to say they tried, but the reason obama care passed was it didn't do anything to cut into the profits of the drug companies, of the hospitals, the exorbitant profits that your local knob profit hospital makes even though we ni it's a nonprofit. the affordable care act did nothing to cut the profits of everybody involved. in fact, if anything, it's going to add to the profits because it's going to put more people into health care which is a good thing. they're going to have insurance, but the taxpayers are going to subsidize that. >> what i learned from you is nonprofit really means opportunity to expand. >> nonprofit means you don't pay taxes, and you don't have to give the money to shareholders. instead, you can distribute it to the nondoctor executives at the hospital in millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses.
>> another -- you said another cost driver is nonprofit hospitals, they're making big profits and the article points this hout. quote, in hundreds of small and midsized cities across the country the american health care market has transformed tax exempt nonprofit hospitals into the town's most profitable businesses and lanlest employers, often presided over by the region's most richly compensated executives. for example, md anderson cancer center at the university of texas, a nonprofit, had a 26% operating profit in 2010. the president of the cancer center was paid $1.8 million last year. that's three times what the president of the university made. neera, how do we address that situation wrshtion so much of the cost is going into these so-called nonprofit hospitals? >> look, i think that, you know, there's been bipartisan support for addressing nonprofit hospitals and saying whether they should really be considered for profit hospitals, and that's an excellent point raised by this, but i think we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that one of the reasons why there is this
shell game in the american health care system is because there are so many people who are uninsured in our country, and hospitals are constantly trying to shift around costs, and we don't have a system by which it's transparent what they're charging. there are some steps in the affordable care act to have transparency so you have those steps. but that's a problem with the fact that we have so many people uninsured and when we get, you know, more people insured in the system, there won't be this constant shell game and there won't be an excuse for this constant shell game. >> steven, one of the things you bring out and you made reference to this is the health care and form suitcle industry, they pay an army of lobbyists to protect their business. since 1998, this is stunning, they spent $5.36 billion on lobbying. by comparison the defense industry and oil and gas industries each paid their lobbyists about a quarter of that. and in your piece you maintain that that's one of the reasons why this pricing has been
protected. >> that's why obama care is the way it is, and that's why it doesn't address the people -- the interests that are making all this money. i mean, you know, it's a lot of reporting, it's a long article, but by following the money in each bill, it's a very simple and obvious result. you just get to see who is making the money. why does that $13,000 drug cost $13,000? look at the salary of the ceos of the drug company, look at their compensation, look at the hospital's compensation. everybody along that supply chain except for the physicians is making out like a bandit. >> it's an eye-opener. thank you for writting it. thank you steven and neera for being here. up next, who had the bright idea that the best ambassador to send to north korea would be dennis rodman? that's ahead. this is "hardball," the place for politics. nice surprise. meet the 5-passenger ford c-max hybrid. c-max come. c-max go.
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to read and consider carefully before investing. we're back. you would think the first american to meet north korea's dictator kim jong-un would be secretary of state john kerry or even president obama. but, no, former basketball star dennis rodman beat them to the punch. rodman, known as the worm, wiggled his way back into the spotlight after pictures surfaced of him hanging with the tyrant while visiting pyongyang to film a bant documentary. rodman calls kim, quote, an awesome guy and a friend. even more bizarre was that the hall of famer revealed to abc's george stephanopoulos that kim gave him a message for president obama. listen. >> i sat with him for two days and at one point he asked me to give obama something to say and do one thing. he wants obama to do one thing. call him. >> he wants a call from president obama? >> that's right.
he told me that. he said, if you can, dennis, i don't want to do war. he loves basketball. obama loves basketball. let's start there. let's start there. >> do you expect the obama administration to use rodman's basketball diplomacy anytime soon but laes talk about it. chris cillizza an msnbc political analyst. steven smith is an espn commentator. >> do you think he's been briefed by the cia or that he will and if not, should he? >> well, number one, the answer is had he been briefed, i can feel pretty confident in saying no. will he be debriefed? i mean who knows. it's dennis rodman. as someone who has been a fan of basketball for a long time, he's sort of been the most unpredictable of unpredictable folks operating on the national stage. he hadn't been operating on the national stage frankly until very recently. i mean, this story, if a week
ago i told you that dennis that dennis rodman would go to north korea and be the basketball diplomat, there's no chance you would believe me. now, all of that said, i'd love to have that coat he had on. >> steven, meadowlark lemon said to be heading for hugo chavez. steven a., what is the real downside, if there is one, to all of this? >> well, there's no real downside outside of the sadness that gets attached to dennis rodman because you realize how pathetic he can be. the reality of the situation is he came over and incredibly misinformed, clearly insensitive to the plight of a lot of north koreans over there in prison. we're talking about the state department classifying the biggest violators of human rights. and here you are, a former basketball player associated with the national bas kbasketba,
a hall of famer, calling this individual his friend. clearly, ignorant to the history of what has taken place. the fact that diplomatic relations is nonexistent between north korea and the united states of america. all of those flagrant and alarming level of ignorance that none of us can apologize for other than to say it's rodman. he's a bit different. clearly, he's not in tune with what's going on in this world. i don't think the white house, nor anybody in the state department nor anybody in the united states government would feel the need to bereave dennis rodman. >> chris, george stephanopolous, here's what he had to say.
>> he's a great guy. if you sit down and talk to him, you know, perception is perceiving how things work. >> a guy puts 200,000 people in prison camps. >> it's amazing how we do the same thing here. >> we have prison catches? >> well, we don't have prison camps. >> it sounds like you're apologizing to me. >> he's a good guy to me. he's my friend. >> he's the only american who's met with this guy. >> i think steven a. makes a good point. it's easy. this is an incredible story. i can't believe this has happened. what's clear is dennis rodman is drastically out of his depth when it comes to foreign policy and what north korea has or hasn't done. the justification of well, this is politics, there's a very big difference between what north korea is doing to its citizenry
and politics. i guess dennis rodman has a right to have whatever friends he wants. broadly, if you go and do things like this, they have an impact. >> he's mistaken -- he looks earnest. i feel sorry for dennis rodman. >> i'm not questioning whether he's earnest. but that doesn't mean that the impact of his actions don't have -- >> man, i wish i had more time. thaing. thank you. we'll be back after this, you're watching hardball, the place for politics. we'll be back after the watching hardball, the place for politics. this day calls you. to fight chronic osteoarthritis pain. to fight chronic low back pain. to take action. to take the next step. today, you will know you did something for your pain. cymbalta can help. cymbalta is a pain reliever
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let me finish tonight with this. yesterday, the washington post patri patrick pexton signed off. the number one complaint to him had been the posts online comment system. readers often said that they like the idea of online comments, but they abhor the racism and constant features of thes post's commenting stream. >> the very first one said this i